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SECURING YOUR CUSTOM - Customer Service

Updated: Apr 26

Bringing my perspective to problems which all groomers (stylists), including myself struggle with on a regular basis. I'm Jenny. A groomer. This year (2023) I turn 55., and have over 20 years experience as a Professional Pet Stylist. I have been working with dogs since I was 12 years old but explored alternative careers ending with degrees in the sciences and education. I have three degrees, B.Sc., M.Sc., 4 years of an incomplete PhD, and a B.Ed (specializing in children and science). These are just the tip of my educational iceberg. I have held numerous awards in science and graduated with top honors. In 2003 I made a radical change and simply quit my old line of work and took a job as a kennel technician with a local vet. From there the grooming just re-happened. So here I am.


Pet Peeves with Customer Service


The customer and customer service. We are all striving to secure repeat business of any one customer. There is always someone better and always someone worse. Aim for the middle, and do to the best you can. Trust me competition, trying to keep everyone happy, everything in balance and to remain sane is a feat of accomplishment in itself. Remain calm and groom on. From a basic viewpoint - business is symbiotic as well as parasitic. In small business we all work together and feed off one another. We all fight for the custom of the same group of individuals.


"The customer is always right". NOT ALWAYS! Whoever coined this statement did not think it through very well - and it comes from the retail world. Retail and Professional Services (both customer services) are not the same, and can't be treated in the same context. Both are called services but comparing a sweater to a living creature is NOT the same. A service dealing with living creatures is not the same as a service that provides items - be what it may clothing or coffee. Apples and oranges.


It's not arrogance, it comes from experience, education, truly knowing the job, and having the tools and skills to perform it well. It is my duty to know my "JOB" and to educate people who use my services. I groom peoples pets not their clothing. I love all animals, but dogs are my passion. I love kitties too but grooming them beyond nail trimming is too much of a risk for me, as I am allergic to cat saliva. If I get bitten I am out of commission for a very long time (I leave serious kitty grooming to my husband Jay and my staff).


If you are having a hard time I most certainly will listen, and am sure we can, like adults, make arrangements to care for your pet (s). Professional Pet Groomers are special people, very understanding, compassionate, and have huge hearts. We are here to help, and we want to help. The big BUT is when all the talk and explaining falls on deaf ears or we get unnecessarily and unfairly admonished. It hurts and IMO there is no groomer that is deliberately out there to hurt any animal or person. The situation is never black and white but many shades of gray. As a female business proprietor being friendly but neutral and impartial is a must. Anyway.....


Problem is groomers are not mind readers, and sometimes we don't get it exactly right. Kindness will get a lot more than demanding, insulting and unreasonable. Personally I do not respond well to any of these tactics - I won't back down when I know I am right - it also will likely end up badly. Just so you are aware.


I truly love what I do and try my best to make sure my staff and I are of the same mindset, and that clients are treated as we would like to be treated. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn't. Anyone can get their panties in a knot. FYI many of us groomers talk to one another - it's a small world! If you treated a local groomer disrespectfully it will get around.


The following is a great example; "When I was new and just starting I vividly remember a not so pleasant interaction - very negative experience - it was gut wrenching as I was such a newbie. Two Wheaton Terriers (wish I still had the photos). I was told by the vet that I must perform the grooming for 45 dollars per dog. I did an amazing job on those terriers, considering their state of neglect - only to be called a STUPID IDIOT by the vet and client - told I was unqualified and should not consider myself a groomer because I couldn't follow instructions.


I was new to the vet grooming world and it really stung because I followed the instructions to detail, as per the instructions written down by the last groomer - even showed the vet and the client the instruction card. How was I to know the previous groomer didn't keep current records. How is this my problem - when the person dropping off could not have cared and their partner was unreachable. I did the best I could with the information I had available. The worst part was that the client called back later to apologize and said the groom was fantastic, just next time keep the long beards. After that do you really think I want to groom your pets again? HARD PASS!! My "lady-balls" came out and I told the vet not to ever do that again, and the client NO please take your dogs to another groomer - Guelph has many many options.


Truth being, I have had more than my share of demeaning and insulting communications including an ALL CAPS handwritten letter of 5 pages admonishing my grooming of goldens. I never groomed these dogs, they cancelled the appointment and went with another groomer. Yet I got the harsh words in an anonymous letter. That was weird and funny at the same time.


Another great example. Lack of instruction.


A puppy cut is not a thing

A summer cut without specifics is not a thing


If you have a certain look you like and have kept it the same for a number of years - you need to be specific about what you want changed. It is NOT appropriate to provide NO details to what you want changed and then be nasty over text, phone or email because you asked for a summer cut but gave no direction.


Again, I reiterate, groomers are not mind readers. We are only human. One persons version of a summer cut is not the same another persons. Lack of instruction." IS ON YOU!" The same summer cut last year was perfectly fine because you required transportation services. All of a sudden because you no longer need pet pickup and drop off, the grooming isn't right - plus you try to haggle a price with cash offer (I have to pay the government their share) - am a corporation - I have to declare income - I CAN'T and DON'T OPERATE UNDER THE RADAR.


Switching groomers and canceling your appointment because you didn't get what you wanted one time is harsh. Instead of keeping your appointment and saying, "Hey last time wasn't short enough, can you -----". Most groomers will say, "No problem." Chances with a bit more direction than "summer cut" you would get what you want. Again "summer cut" is a personal preference and is different for each individual. Worse even is trying to argue the point over text just to add insult to injury. Please stay with your "new groomer", hope they do taxi service should you need it again. I hear mobile groomers and red tops are pretty expensive.


You might be wondering why I am still in this career. It is because I truly love my job, pets and their people - would never let a few negative experiences change my attitude to one of the best jobs going. Besides how am I to grow personally, good along with the bad - you grow a tough skin as a professional pet groomer and business owner or you won't last . Along with the negative experiences, there are way more positive and rewarding ones. Those are the ones I keep foremost in my mind. Though putting the negative ones "out there" give anyone who reads my blog a bit of insight on how not to treat your groomer. Being unfair and unkind gets you on the blacklist. Leaving negative one star reviews is a personal choice. If it is deserved - fair enough. However, reviews that are unreasonable, untrue, fictitious or false, will guarantee that I will let everyone know my side.


I am the groomer who KNOWS my local average market, knows my competition, knows my value and skill set, will always upgrade my education/skills/tools to be current, and remain fair yet competitive with other salons and groomers of "EQUAL" quality. Learning the word NO took a long time for me, but a burned out, tired and sad groomer is not a good thing. Saying NO equals self preservation in a very emotionally demanding career.


Expect that a private store front salon will be more expensive than a box store or a home groomer - we offer dedicated services. As a Professional Pet Groomer, I will treat you as you treat me. I will treat your pet as I would want mine to be treated. Never forget that we all have good days and bad days and that we all want the same thing a loved, happy, well groomed furry family member. It is my job to be a professional and stay current in my career, but also part of my job to educate you about all things grooming. Whether or not it is accepted - That is on you!

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